When the British left India everyone thought that India would enter into a phase of prosperity and freedom. Little did we realize that India would be caught in a whirlpool of oceanic problems. There is not yet a Shiva who would church the ocean and swallow the poison. All countries have their woes of governance and India is no exception to this rule. However, most other countries have done something substantial to overcome roadblocks to efficient and inclusive governance.
Let us put it straight. We borrowed an electoral system from the British despite that fact that some of our Fathers of Constitutions argued vehemently against the British type of FPTP, the First Past The Post Electoral system. What is so special about an electoral system? If our elected members are not corrupt everything in governance should be alright. So goes the pedestrian argument of the intellectual and the common man alike.
An electoral system is not a panacea. It does not address all the problems of governance. The role of an electoral system is to lead a country towards the formation of stable governments. Governance is the role of the government and not of the electoral system. But in order that good governance may be ensured for all the people of a country it is of paramount importance that electoral system in a country should lead to the formation of good governments. If the electoral system does not match the type of good governance that is needed then in all likelihood the people, voters and both tax paying and non-tax paying citizens will be screwed without any inhibition and scruple.
Unfortunately, in India, many are under the false assumption that there is only one type of electoral system. Even the half enlightened intellectuals who often had read blurred textbook writings on other types of electoral systems often look at them through the prism of FPTP. No blame game here. That is what they can do best, as they know only FPTP well and they look at all other systems through their jaundiced eyes.
Those who have read Ambedkar for example have been harping on separate electorate without ever realizing that Ambedkar himself discounted it on 27 August 1955. He also discounted reserved seats in the same resolution that he passed as the chairperson of the National Federation of Scheduled Castes. It is there for all to see in his first volume. But unless one has a clear vision of Proportional Representation system, what Ambedkar means by the resolution will go only in the wind. Ambedkar even speaks in the resolution against the Constitutional provision for FPTP. Remember he was the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constitution. The man was humble enough to acknowledge the mistake in the Constitution.
Is there any doubt that FPTP throws out election after election the type of trash, I mean governments, that is the antithesis of good governance? And we have two typical stereotypes. Those in governance who are the greatest beneficiaries of FPTP keep constantly diverting the attention of the people from ‘bad governance’ by heaping praises on the way India has promoted democracy. The recipients of bad governance have been all the time taken stones, brickbats, slippers and the like to throw on the very same people they have elected through FPTP. This ball game keeps going providing intermittent democratic entertainment
to the voters and citizens.
The jaundiced vision of ‘good governance’ has never allowed both the intellectual and the citizen to have a deeper and clearer vision of the malady that is affecting Indian democracy. We are a huge nation that believes in the writing on our foreheads. We refuse to see the writing on the wall. Fate is not a deterrent but it is the determinant not only in our morals but also in our governance. We resign ourselves to it immediately after voting. We only have to run, have to participate in Olympics and not win medals. Did not Krishna tell Arjun to only do his karma without expecting the result? While those in governance plunder away our wealth and resources from under our feet trespassing the ‘moral’ teaching of Krishna, the ordinary citizen is still under the terrible spell of Krishna’s perverted theory of Karma.
FPTP is the obvious perversion of our political class. But in India we cannot single out a political class as in the rest of the world. Our political class is simultaneously the social caste and the economic class, a sort of all in one, dancing merrily on the woes of the rest of Indians. They are very confident that as most Indians apply the white powder with their three fingers covering their forehead, no Indian would have the clarity to stand against their shenanigans. What is so bad about FPTP?
First things first! FPTP is not a bad electoral system. It is an electoral system that does not fit into the Indian society and therefore, throws up governments that cannot govern India efficiently. When an unsuitable system is artificially made to fit into the governance of a country then this system is bound to become bad for that country. FPTP is suitable and was originally designed to throw up majority in democracies with two parties. It simply does not fit into a country where there are more than two parties. In such countries it will lead to formation of governments by parties that do not have mandate from a majority of voters. It is called Majoritarian or Plurality electoral system but when it is applied in multiparty democracies it becomes a contradiction in terms. That two members are sitting in our present Parliament as winners with less than 10% of votes speaks volume for the type voter power we have in the FPTP electoral system.